There was so much to do at ThrillerFest, I’m going to have to break this up into a series of posts.

The very first thing on my ThrillerFest calendar was one that I was looking forward to most: lunch with my agent Cynthia Manson and my editor Liz Pearsons.  This may come as a surprise, but the publishing world is so far-flung that almost everything is accomplished by phone or email.  With Cynthia based in New York and Liz in Seattle, I’d never met either one in person, so the chance to actually sit down at the same table and talk was really exciting.  A little nerve-racking, too, but exciting.  And we ended up having a great lunch, talking about TAKEOFF, the sequel I just finished (FALSE HORIZON), and the future for Seth Walker.

After that, it was time for another in a series of firsts: my first promotional videos.  These short, 20-second spots will be coming to your social media feed soon, but to give you an example, here’s a comparable one from my good friend William Myers, Jr. about his legal thriller An Engineered Injustice.  Given that I’ve never done TV or anything like that, the process of making these videos was fascinating: I sat in a chair and did take after take, trying to keep my lines straight, focus on the camera, take direction, and generally seem calm, cool, and collected.  However good I end up looking in these, all the credit should go to the production crew, as they held my hand through every step.  I don’t know how much I gave them to work with, but we’ll see.

Finally, Thursday ended with the Opening Reception.  This was, as you might expect, a huge cocktail party where you press your way through the crowd, trying to find people you know.  Problem is, this being my first ThrillerFest, I didn’t really know many very people.  Thankfully, some kind folks were nice enough to strike up conversations with me, or engage with me when I struck up with them.

The first of these who deserves special mention was Susan Furlong.  While I knew Susan’s name from following her agent, Jessica Faust, for several years on social media, I’d never met her and I certainly had no idea how kind she was.  Susan saw me standing alone at one point, sipping at my beer, and stepped over to talk.  We discussed her new Bone Gap Travelers series, TAKEOFF and Seth Walker, our families, the writing life.  Susan was so sweet, in fact, that I had no idea I would see her later in the weekend on a panel discussing firearms, where she held court with a former member of the Special Forces, a Hollywood stuntwoman, and others to discuss the inner workings of various handguns.  Having checked her website, I now know she’s also a martial arts instructor.  Woe unto the villain who mistakenly picks on Susan!

Another person with whom I had a great conversation was Joanne Sinchuck, the owner of the Murder on the Beach bookstore in Delray Beach, Florida.  Not everyone at the conference was an author or a fan–there are plenty of booksellers, too, and I think hearing their perspectives on the publishing industry is really important.  When I found myself standing near Joanne and asked her a question, we ended up talking for several minutes, and she was generous enough to share her thoughts on author events, what it’s like having a store in a town that’s highly seasonal, and lots of other business aspects to which I’d never been exposed.

Overall, Thursday was a great day, and really set the table for the rest of the conference.  More on that in the next post….